Pinocchio

Vampire Owl: I know this person very well from childhood itself.

Vampire Bat: It is a fictional character from the children’s novel The Adventures of written by the Italian writer Carlo Collodi of Florence.

Vampire Owl: Okay, so it is from the land of Renaissance indeed,

Vampire Bat: Yes, most people don’t really know that this tale is not really English.

Vampire Owl: But it went on to become so popular all around the world.

Vampire Bat: Yes, it is that kind of a story that appeals to everyone.

Vampire Owl: And it is a fine story to read for the children of all ages.

Vampire Bat: We also add an Italian movie dealing with the same story to our list on this day.

Vampire Owl: I am sure that this one will become a fine deviation from our usual path.

Vampire Bat: Yes, and takes us back to childhood too, at least in parts.

[Gets a green apple cake and three glasses of blackcurrant shake].

What is the movie about? :: Geppetto (Roberto Benigni), a poor Italian carpenter has a hard time making his living, as he rarely gets any work, and nobody appreciates him for the quality products which he come up with. But one day, he sees a puppet theatre in the town, and becomes a lot interested in creating a puppet all by himself. He feels that he could create something special which would be appreciated all around the world for its beauty on wood. He manages to get a log of wood which its owner wanted to leave behind because it seemed to have some kind of magic associated with it. Geppetto spends all his time creating the perfect puppet, and in the end, when he finishes the same, he finds out that it can talk. After naming the puppet Pinocchio (Federico Ielapi), he decides to take him as his son. But the newfound son out of the log isn’t really an obedient one, as he keeps exercising his freedom against the wishes of his father.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Pinocchio does get into trouble due to his actions, and Geppetto decides to send him to school, so that he would study well and also mingle with the other children of the town. Geppetto sells his inherited jacket to buy Pinocchio an ABC book which is necessary to accepted into the school. Pinocchio does go for his first day at school, but notices a puppet theater, and he ends up selling the book to buy the ticket. In the theater, the other puppets notice Pinocchio among the viewers and calls him up the stage, thus messing up the show. A furious puppeteer Mangiafuoco (Gigi Proietti) catches Pinocchio and locks him in his caravan with the others puppets, and leaves the town. Mangiafuoco who has been very angry about what had happened, plans to use Pinocchio as firewood to help cooking his dinner. Pinocchio begs him to release him in order to return home from his father, who would be very much worried by then.

And what else is to follow around here with the puppet? :: Mangiafuoco decides to let him go, and seeing his compassion towards the other puppets who he saves from being burned, he gives him five gold coins to give to the poor carpenter whom he calls father. Pinocchio is really happy about it, and tries to get home as soon as possible, but is lost in his way, not sure where he is heading. As he tries to find the right directions, he meets Fox (Massimo Ceccherini) and Cat (Rocco Papaleo) who discovers that the puppet has some gold coins with him which they can use during their jobless ways. They tell him a tale about the Field of Miracles, a special place where they can bury the coins, and a tree full of money will grow rapidly. But they intend to murder the puppet and take the money. They make some fine plans for the same, and takes a room in the nearby tavern. Pinocchio is not aware of such sinister plans, and despite being warned by Talking Cricket (Davide Marotta). Can the puppet keep the money and finally get to his father who is looking for him?

The defence of Pinocchio :: The movie, as expected is a journey to a special world, and those who have known the tale before, will relate to the same very well. There is a beautiful world that provides a certain amount of enchantment close to the original version, and we have one puppet who is not familiar with the ways of humans going through. Roberto Benigni whom we know from the movie Life is Beautiful is here again playing the father figure, and that is indeed beautiful, as we remember how he managed to be a great father there – here, he is not far behind either. The one who used his imagination to shield his son from the terror within a Nazi concentration camp is not to be forgotten that easily. Marine Vacth who plays the fairy and many others also catch our attention, being out of the usual world, getting close to fantasy. With the cat, fox, snail, cricket, characters, the movie is as child-friendly as anything can get, and therefore makes itself a fine watch for the families. Well, a journey through rural Italy of those times never really gets to be less interesting for the eyes.

The claws of flaw :: Pinocchio might be different in looks from what many people might have imagined him earlier. The movie could have had a certain amount of visible magic in there too, not as being regular part of the proceedings, but as something completely out of the world. For the same, more special effects could have been used to create a visual extravaganza, because even lesser films these days seem to display the grandeur – after all, this is a children’s classic of a higher level on print. The fact that the puppet keeps falling into trouble due to not listening to the good advice makes it feel repetitive, especially for the adults who would be a long way past this tale by now – even I don’t remember most of what I read during my childhood. It could have also had more focus on the father-son relationship because the puppet as the adventurer is not of that much interest as a person, and we have to look forward to the fairy to find the next lovable character, followed by the snail. The growing nose could have also been used better.

How it finishes :: As far as the idea of Pinocchio from The Adventures of Pinocchio by the Italian author Carlo Collodi is concerned, this one manages the same well, and it is to be noted that usually the adaptations are supposed to come in the form of cartoons. Making a live-action movie with this type of characters is indeed difficult, but we can see that they have managed everything pretty well here. The Adventures of Pinocchio has been the world’s most translated book excluding religious works and had such a great impact on different cultures, also being a children’s favourite. But we see that it also explores the human condition, about what it means to be human, right here. We do have that usual child who doesn’t like to go to the school, and is not interested in obeying parents, with a certain love for entertainment and adventure over the rest, and is naive when facing the dangers of the outside world. Yes, this version is a successful one too, and you can choose to watch it, without expecting anything too special or highly innovative.

Release date: 19th December 2019
Running time: 125 minutes
Directed by: Matteo Garrone
Starring: Roberto Benigni, Federico Ielapi, Rocco Papaleo, Massimo Ceccherini, Marine Vacth, Gigi Proietti, Paolo Graziosi, Massimiliano Gallo, Maria Pia Timo, Davide Marotta, Alessio Di Domenicantonio

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Piranhas

Vampire Owl: I has been wondering why there has been no Italian movie on the website so far, even with French, Spanish and German being there.

Vampire Bat: You have to note that I don’t have any Portuguese movie either if you are looking at the Western Europe.

Vampire Owl: Still, it is different about Italian. Bicycle Thieves from Vittorio De Sica is your favourite, and you have studied it in college.

Vampire Bat: I would say the same about Life is Beautiful from Roberto Benigni too.

Vampire Owl: But we still had to wait for so long to get an Italian movie here.

Vampire Bat: I do not intend to write about movies from each and every part of the world.

Vampire Owl: Yes, but you have to agree that this one was long due.

Vampire Bat: Well, I did have my plans of writing one earlier.

Vampire Owl: Yes, and I had guessed that long ago.

Vampire Bat: There are no awards for guessing this one though.

[Gets a chocolate cake and three cups of masala tea].

What is the movie about? :: The movie is set in Naples, the third-largest city of Italy after Rome and Milan, and one of the most densely populated cities in Europe. A group of teenage boys from one of the thickly populated neighbourhoods in Naples, hope to gain power, fame and easy money, and for the same, they enter into the city’s world of crime which is rather complicated. Nicola (Francesco Di Napoli), who lives with his single mother and younger brother, feels that there is no option left for him, but to choose crime as a real opportunity, as the group moves through the streets as gangsters would. Nicola falls in love with an aspiring model who works in her father’s restaurant, Letizia (Viviana Aprea) whom he helps in the street once and again meets her at the swimsuit of a beauty contest which she losses, and he helps her out in the following brawl. Soon, Letizia returns the same affections, and they start a relationship, with the support of his friends who are happy to see him with a girl.

So, what happens with the events here? :: As they try to take control of different areas, Nicola finds it difficult to be with Letizia because she is living in another part of the city which has the presence of a rival gang who wants his gang to keep away. Still he does manage to sneak into her room at times, beginning a part-time live in relationship. Nicola and his friends dive deeper into the world of crime with guns received from one of the notorious dons of the area, and they begin to show no regret after crimes. Nicola’s mother (Valentina Vannino) is not exactly happy about it, but doesn’t say much about it, as his idea itself seems to make her happy, as extortion by gangs at her shop seemed to bother him more than anything else. But with more and more of teenagers’ gangs being formed, and the youth committing further crimes, how long can he hold on a gang within a world of crime? Is survival an easy enough thing here?

The defence of Piranhas :: The movie is undoubtedly good looking, as far as the locations and visuals are concerned here. Naples is indeed a fine place to wander around, and we see different sides of the beautiful city, even though we have only been familiar with the other cities like Rome, Venice, Florence and Milan which we have seen on television, but never this charming city. At the same time, we wish the nation of Italy with its grand history and culture a speedy recovery from the Corona Virus which seems to be happening right now too. The tale also progresses in an order which makes the new generation attitude and their loss of innocence if there was something like that, feels very much close to reality. If you notice the first scene, there is something that reminds you of William Golding’s Lord of Flies, both the film and the movie, as we notice the return of inherent evil in people, and as it returns to the kids who claim to be fifteen year old youth, we understand that evil has been invoked in them too early, and we just can’t trust the children to be good and display innocence any more.

The claws of flaw :: Piranhas doesn’t move away from the usual gangster movie mode, and there are many occasions when you keep feeling that you have seen these before, and at different times, and it has nothing new that you would want to treasure. It also doesn’t manage to explore that much, and extend its strengths a gangster movie, with something seemingly pull it back, which is why even with a run-time of one hour and forty five minutes, it does feel to be longer. It doesn’t try to venture that deep as a movie about youngsters becoming criminals and wandering in the streets. We have had many Malayalam movies dealing with the same topic emotionally as well as in a funny way. Piranhas could have ended with a bigger scope, but it chooses not to do that, and it doesn’t deal with its female characters that well either, as it chooses to keep them down and without significance throughout the time when there was chance for them too.

Performers of the soul :: As the feeling of Lord of the Flies seems to be invoked here, there is much to do for the young cast, and they do not stay far behind with the same – it seems to come naturally to them here. As the leader of the junior gang, and the one to take the big decisions every time, Francesco Di Napoli’s character steals the attention more than anyone else, and he does manage to come up with a straight-forward performance here which rises above everyone else with ease. He does seem to be in control at all times, as he tries to do whatever an older crime boss would do, and in the final moments of the movie, we see that he is more or less a young gangster who has gone through his coming of age moments, and it is where his bildungsroman reaches to final point. Viviana Aprea is a lovely addition to the movie, and she is someone whom we can see with passionate and true love for the main character, but can’t follow the same well enough due to her lover’s gangster kind of life which threatens to separate them forever. The supporting cast does a pretty good job too.

How it finishes :: Piranhas does make an interesting gangster movie which follows the usual style of such movies, but doesn’t work on the same idea that much as one would have wanted it to. As the first Italian movie which I watched since Life is Beautiful a long time ago in the order of its release, and after Bicycle Thieves if we considered the order of release, this one made an interesting watch. There is a certain amount of reality in these movies, and that feeling keeps on going throughout the run. There is no melodrama, but we do feel with the characters, and everything remains so subtle. It is the same reason why I decided to choose an Italian movie to watch for this time of Corona Virus. I hope that all my reader are doing okay during this season of terrible crisis with one virus trying to kill us and our spirits in more than one way. But we will survive, and we shall go past these terrible times – we are all together in this! Stay safe and watch more movies!

Release date: 12th February 2019
Running time: 105 minutes
Directed by: Claudio Giovannesi
Starring: Viviana Aprea, Francesco Di Napoli, Alfredo Turitto, Ar Tem, Carmine Pizzo, Ciro Pellechia, Valentina Vannino, Ciro Vecchione, Luca Nacarlo, Mattia Piano Del Balzo, Pasquale Marotta, Adam Jendoubi

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.